Saturday, April 23, 2011

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

It would be pointless to continue sharing this journey without filling in the details that have led to this point. Some may chalk things up to coincidence, chance, or may fail to even recognize significance in the details; however, it is in the finite details of life that God reveals Himself to me most intimately. Therefore, I feel compelled to share them.

In October of 2007, I was introduced to the country of Uganda. I remember sitting in a service at my church and feeling like God was pulling at my heart to go on a summer mission trip. During this time in life, God was transforming me. I had accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 12, but at the age of 18 was really just beginning to fall in love with Him. In this year, I began to experience the Holy Spirit. For unexplainable reasons, I knew I was going to Uganda that upcoming summer, and had faith that even though all odds were set against it, I'd be there.

In July 2008 I boarded the plane for Washington, D.C. It was the second flight of my life, and the first by myself. I didn't know a soul that I would come into contact with, let alone develop a lifelong friendship with.

After landing in D.C., I met my team and flew to London. During our 12 hour layover there, I began formulating friendships. See the girl standing with me below? Meet Carolyn Smellie during one of our first moments together. A friend who now holds a very treasured spot in my heart.

In my two weeks overseas, I experienced life-changing relationships. I fell in love with people and places that had completely altered my worldview and had firmly planted themselves in my heart. When I left home to go Uganda I didn't know my purpose in going, I just knew it was within God's will for me to go. When I left Uganda to come home, I still didn't know exactly why I had gone, but I knew that it was only the first chapter of what would become a much longer story.

In Gulu, Uganda, I roomed with Carolyn and another beautiful daughter of the King, Natalie. Our long days together and our late night talks formulated deep frienships. Carolyn and I were both enrolled in college and studying to pursue education careers. At Destiny Children's Home in Kampala, Uganda, we were introduced to the prospect of returning to teach one day. Carolyn and I looked at each other and the idea took root.

Carolyn was from Iowa, and I was from Nebraska. Far enough away, that if not for Uganda, we wouldn't have met. Close enough that since we had a new friendship, we could keep in touch. Over the next couple of years, we were intentional about meeting up periodically. Our conversations always led to our dreams of teaching together in Uganda one day, but our ideas of how that would happen differed. I wanted to go immediately after college graduation. She wanted to gain some experience teaching in the states before taking the leap. We didn't know what the future would hold, but had confidence in God's perfect timing and provisions.

I specifically remember a conversation between us where Carolyn said, "Don't you just have this feeling that one day we will be there together teaching? I just know it's going to happen. Maybe in our single lives, maybe with husbands and families. I don't know the details, but I know that it will."

I don't know if she remembers that discussion. That moment. But, I do. Because in hearing the words spoken, I believed it, too. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." That's how it was.

Our ideal situations have been flip-flopped. I graduated and spent some time teaching in school districts here in Omaha. She is graduating in May. And, in August we are leaving together to embark on a new chapter of this story. It holds so many unknowns.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

God has been so faithful in working out the details of His plan, and I have no doubt that this will continue to be the case.

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

Carolyn is a friend dear to my heart. Lately, it is at precisely the moment I need an encouraging word, a message of inspiration, that Carolyn has sent me one without me having said anything. Her love for Jesus pours out lavishly on others. I'm so excited to share this ministry together.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Ultimate Provider

I'm in constant awe of God's goodness and His eagerness to provide for those who seek to do His work. In Phillipians 4:19 it says, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." This is such a profound truth!

This morning I awoke to the most delightful email from the team leader in Uganda. He is the primary contact who is and has been working out many of the details for my ministry there. It is so encouraging to know that there are brothers and sisters in Mbarara who are already fighting and doing what they can to prepare the way for me.

His email to me was the first I have received and what great news it bore. For those who don't know the story of Carolyn and I's friendship, and how it has been divinely interwined, I will be sure to post that story in the near future. For the extent of this blog, it is critical to know that God has had His perfect hand in our relationship. The email was just another reassurance of that.

In the email, it was confirmed that as of now Carolyn and I will be living together! However, that is only the beginning of God's provisions. We are also fully equipped with a house that has water, a fridge, and an Uganda! Praise God!
A phrase that is often recognized by those who are familiar with Africa is "T.I.A." It stands for "This is Africa." Which in summary means that anything is subject to change. It makes everything a little more exciting :)

Not only are we provided for with a few luxuries, but the home is also located in a secure compound, and our next door neighbor is the local police representative. The missionary family who has made this house their home will be on leave during our time in Uganda, so it works perfectly that we can live there in their absence. Also joining us in our living arrangement will be Juno, the family's beloved German Shepherd. Nothing like a little extra protection! God is so precise in how he works out all of the details. Let this be a little boost of comfort for anyone holding onto some bits of fear in this mission God has placed on my heart.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

And in the words of Jesus Christ my Savior:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
John 14:27

The Lord does not give as the world does. He gives so much more and in ways that I could not even dream of being given.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The First of Many.

This is the first of many. First of many firsts. First of many posts. Take it as you will, but it's only the beginning.

The journey started back in the fall of 2007 when I first heard of a country called Uganda. Little did I know God was preparing to take me on an adventure that would affect me for years to come. In July of 2008 I went to Uganda on a summer mission trip and fell in love with what I experienced. During my time there, I was introduced to the prospect of returning to teach one day. From the moment I left it has been the consistent prayer of my heart.

Over the course of the last few years many different occasions have led me to this place. I've tried to pursue going back to Uganda for a summer and had nothing come through. I've been offered teaching jobs in Omaha only to have odd circumstances cause them to fall through. I've had opportunities fall and have had new ones take their place. I've let some dreams die, only to be replaced by new ones. Some doors have closed only to allow new passions to arise.

I've allowed myself to be open to new paths, and the Lord has used it. Now more than ever, I'm convinced that God's timing is not only everything, it is also perfect. This week it was confirmed that I will be moving to Mbarara, Uganda! My placement there will be for 12 months, and I'm so excited. I have full confidence in God's hand in this. It only makes it more exciting to see what will happen.

This is what I know for sure. I will be in the same city as my dear friend, Carolyn. Uniquely our paths were first intertwined on our trips to Uganda in 2008. It is a little gift from God that once again this will be the case. My tentative departure date is August 4th, 2011. Exactly 4 months from when I received my confirmation call. I need to raise approximately $15,300 to cover all budgeted costs for the next year. God has consistently been faithful and present, I've no reason to doubt that it won't continue!